NBN construction woes an opportunity: i3

Summary:The company that was set to provide a sewer fibre broadband network to Brisbane before the project was canned — i3 — has said that the suspension of the network construction tender process for the National Broadband Network (NBN) would open the door for alternate technologies.

The company that was set to provide a sewer fibre broadband network to Brisbane before the project was canned — i3 — has said that the suspension of the network construction tender process for the National Broadband Network (NBN) would open the door for alternate technologies.

i3 lays fibre networks through sewer pipes, a project that i3 Global CEO Elfed Thomas said will have positive effects on traffic flow and will keep gardens intact during a roll-out, but will also be much cheaper than digging trenches for fibre.

"Based on our analysis, and the technology that i3 provides, we believe the cost of the NBN could be drastically reduced, and the disruption effect of laying new fibre trenches could be eliminated altogether," Thomas said in a statement.

The CEO believed that the total cost of the network could work out as much as 70 per cent cheaper, and the roll-out could occur 60 per cent faster.

Recently the National Broadband Network Company (NBN Co) suspended the tender process for the network construction tender, saying that all of the bids it had received were overpriced. It has now said it is in talks with another vendor, reportedly Leighton-Siemens joint venture Silcar.

Thomas said the tender suspension presents an opportunity for alternate technologies.

"We believe i3 is now in a strong position to help the Federal Government, and local and state public sector bodies to meet the needs of their business and community stakeholders, by licensing our fibre cabling systems to them," said Thomas.

However, NBN Co appeared to pour cold water on his hopes.

"We've already spelled out in our company plan our approach to network design and construction," the company said to ZDNet Australia when asked about whether the company would consider a change of tack.

i3's project with Brisbane was cancelled by Lord Mayor Campbell Newman, which he said was due to due diligence concerns. i3 has said, however, that it is looking towards other projects with Australian councils.

i3 has also run into problems with its fibre roll-outs in council municipalities Dundee and Bournemouth in the United Kingdom, where the company was forced to dig trenches after deals to install fibre through the sewer fell through.

Other projects of the company exist in South Africa, the United States and New Zealand.

Topics: NBN, Broadband

About

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for t... Full Bio

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